Our Old Testament reading fast-forwards through the life of the people of Israel, taking us all the way to the time of Israel’s desire for a king. God has reluctantly granted their request, and Saul has tried and failed to be the king that Israel needs. As we enter this story in Sunday’s reading, the Lord is speaking to his servant Samuel, telling him to get over his grieving for Saul’s failure and get ready to go out and anoint a new king, someone God has already chosen. God tells him to go to Bethlehem, to the household of Jesse, where he will find the chosen one among his sons. Samuel arrives, and Jesse’s sons pass before him; he thinks that he can sense kingship in the good looks and height of the first son. God tells Samuel not to be concerned with outward appearance. God sees what mortals cannot—the human heart—and bases his choices accordingly. One by one the sons pass in front of Samuel, and not one of them is God’s chosen. Jesse tells him that one son remains, the youngest, who is out keeping the sheep (hint: a metaphor for kingship). David is summoned, and when he appears, “ruddy, [with] beautiful eyes, and handsome,” God tells Samuel to anoint him. When the horn of oil is poured over David’s head, “the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.” The indwelling of God’s spirit changes him.
The gospel lesson is another dramatic encounter with Jesus from John. This week Jesus meets a man “blind from birth.” The question immediately turns to the cause of his blindness, with prevailing wisdom saying that human sin must be the cause. Jesus rejects this view, saying that it is so that “God’s works might be revealed in him.” Then, Jesus heals him by applying mud made with saliva to his eyes and telling him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. When the man returns with his sight restored, his neighbors and acquaintances begin to ask questions. Soon, the Pharisees are involved, and there is a trial. The man is judged a sinner and driven out of the temple. Jesus finds the man and leads him into deeper belief. The final verdict comes from Jesus: “I came into the world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” First, you have to accept and admit your blindness.
Our brief reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is part of his appeal for a changed way of life. He writes, “Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.” We have become children of light because we have become Christ’s own; he lives in us, and we live, really live, because we are in him. Once we are able to see that what we thought was our true self was just a shadow compared to the self we are in Christ, we have made the great discovery of who we really are.